According to this theory, explained by Claude Le Pen in a post for Institut Montaigne, a sufficiently large share of the population would have to be contaminated by the virus to make the entire population immune to the pandemic – until a vaccine exists, immunity comes through the contraction of the disease. This strategy, which raises many ethical issues and concerns, is not formally embraced. Indeed, there has been no official statement from the Swedish executive, contrary to Boris Johnson’s official statement in the UK a couple of weeks ago.
For one of Sweden's most publicized epidemiologists, Anders Tegnell, there is no evidence that a strategy of herd immunity has been adopted by the government. Interviewed by the national media outlet Svenska Dagbladet, he rules out the possibility of the government adopting this strategy: according to him, the government is instead looking at ways to curb the curve as much as possible, so as to limit the number of cases reported simultaneously and thus preserve the capacity of the health system to respond to the health crisis. What we understand from this is that chaos is not yet felt and is not predicted to occur in the future. One of Sweden's assets in the face of the pandemic is a low population density, which may help limit the spread of the virus. With 25 people per square kilometre, compared to 120 in France or 206 in Italy, Sweden is one of the countries with the lowest population density in Europe. And Stockholm, by far the densest city in the country, has half as many people per square kilometre as New York does, and four times fewer than Paris.
Nonetheless, as an article on the Swedish case published in Le Monde points out, experts are far from reaching consensus. Many remind that Swedish hospitals were already under pressure before the onset of the Coronavirus, with 2.4 beds per 1,000 inhabitants and a total of 526 beds in intensive care, the lowest figure among OECD countries.
Beyond the debate among experts, political parties have responded to this decision. While media outlets are being increasingly alarmist, political parties in the opposition have not tried to take advantage of the situation. A recent article in the southern regional newspaper Sydsvenskan, for example, gives a platform to the Christian Democrat Ebba Busch, who tries to make sense of the government's choices on the basis of scientific explanations. And on the Sweden Democrats’ side, the atmosphere is particularly calm. The leader of this far-right party, Jimmie Åkesson, has not taken the opportunity to criticise the minority coalition government formed by the Social Democrats and the Greens (a right-wing alliance had been discarded after months of discussions between centrists and liberals despite Sweden Democrats’ breakthrough in the 2018 parliamentary elections, where no majority could be secured by any of the traditional blocs). On the contrary, Mr. Åkesson explained in the centre-right tabloidExpressen that realistic economic measures needed to be considered before insisting about their urgency on television, while in the end admitting that all politicians pretty much agreed that a consensus had to be reached.
In any case, people from abroad seem to worry about Sweden. British newspaper The Guardian drew attention to this concern headlining an article on the topic with the expression "Russian roulette", an idea used by some experts to describe the risk taken by Sweden. The next few days will tell whether the government and the experts it relies on are just buying time, or whether Sweden has actually decided to write a very different story from the rest of the world.
Copyright : Anders WIKLUND / TT NEWS AGENCY / AFP